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Tompkins latest to deal with EMS crisis: Response time lags, as small towns and villages say they don’t have funding to help

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Tompkins County emergency services are facing critical response delays, with average emergency medical response times reaching nearly 13 minutes, lagging behind the national average of 4 minutes, according to new reporting by the Ithaca Voice.

The prolonged times are particularly severe in rural areas such as the towns of Enfield and Newfield, where responses can extend to over 20 minutes.


Right now, four agencies cover over 475 square miles. A subcommittee has been tasked with finding solutions to the problem, and while a Rapid Medical Response Pilot Program has been proposed, many communities are pushing back against it.

This initiative aims to deploy strategically placed SUVs staffed with EMTs to address the spike in response times, especially in rural locales. This is similar to the fly car program in Wayne County. If approved, it would launch in 2024.


Funding for the program, however, has sparked debate among county officials. Several proposed models suggest shared municipal responsibility for the costs, a point of contention for financially strapped communities like Enfield and Trumansburg, The Voice reports.

State lawmakers say they’re searching for answers at the state level to help with funding issues.